Home News 3 Questions Great Leaders Never Ask

3 Questions Great Leaders Never Ask

Your leadership communication can empower, or it can deflate. Follow this communication guide to build a stronger team.

By Inc.Arabia Staff
images header


Great leadership is not about having all the answers but instead asking the right questions that encourage your team to find those answers themselves. This means question-asking is not just a useful skill but the language of exceptional leadership.   

This skill is crucial for drawing out the greatness, confidence, and leadership abilities in those around you. However, there's a fine line between fostering an empowering environment and stifling the confidence of those around you, and that line rides on the questions you ask. 

Below, I'll share the question-asking pitfalls you can avoid to build others up around you. 

1. "Stacking" questions

Leaders often, sometimes unknowingly, bundle several questions into one, creating a barrage that can overwhelm or confuse team members. This "stacking" can dilute the focus of the conversation and make it difficult for your team to provide meaningful answers. 

As a leader, you want to leave room for your team members to think through one question at a time by avoiding a barrage that sounds like "How did we lose that account? Are you working on it now? Who else is involved?"

A better alternative is to simplify and focus on the root question.

Ask one question at a time, giving your team the space to think and respond thoroughly. This approach not only clarifies what you're asking but also demonstrates that you value their thoughts on each specific point. 

2. "Why" questions

Starting questions with "why" often comes across as accusatory, sparking defensive responses. This can trigger individuals to feel as though you are confronting them, instead of collaborating. 

Reframe "why" questions into "how" or "what" inquiries. For instance, instead of asking, "Why did this project fail?" consider, "What factors contributed to the project's challenges?" This subtle shift encourages constructive dialogue, focusing on solutions and learning rather than blame.

3. Self-affirming questions

Leaders sometimes pose questions designed merely to reaffirm their viewpoints or decisions, seeking agreement rather than genuine input or ideas. This can diminish trust and discourage honest feedback, limiting the team's growth and innovation. Self-affirming questions may sound like "Don't you agree?" or "See what I mean?"

Instead, cultivate curiosity and openness. Ask questions that genuinely seek different perspectives, even if they challenge your own. This not only fosters a culture of trust and collaboration but also encourages team members to bring new solutions to the table.

As a leader, refining your question-asking skills is a powerful way to enhance your leadership effectiveness. By avoiding these common pitfalls and adopting a more thoughtful approach to inquiry, you can foster an environment of open dialogue, mutual respect, and collective problem-solving. Remember, the goal is to unlock the potential within your team, not just to be recognized as the greatest problem solver.

Photo Credit: Getty Images.

Last update:
Publish date: